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Patricia O'Loughlin
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Word concubine since 1989.
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Instagram vs Snapchat: Capitalising on the Art of Borrowing Ideas

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When Instagram released its latest update earlier this week, digital audiences around the world threw their hands up in shock. Seemingly, the social media platform had ‘copied’ Snapchat by introducing ‘Instagram Stories’: a feature that enables its 1 billion-strong usership to post slideshows that are available for 24 hours at a time before disappearing from the platform. Users can post video clips or photographs complete with screen captions, drawing functions, colour filters and stickers… just like Snapchat.

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Image: Techcrunch

While Instagram hasn’t gone as far as to include the ever-popular face filters, geofilters, time stamps or weather and speed gauges that users can find on the latest version of Snapchat, there’s no denying that the secondary feed of ephemeral content is incredibly similar to the mobile app that fuels 10 billion daily video views.

This has people wondering: has Instagram totally ripped off Snapchat?

In a nutshell, no. What the multi-media platform has in fact done is acknowledged an idea, noted its success, adopted its format and then put its own unique spin on it. Rather than copying Snapchat, Instagram has chosen a route that is key to many stories of entrepreneurial success.

Interconnected ideas lie at the heart of entrepreneurialism

If we quickly glance over recent history, we can see that some of the greatest companies of our time did not actually invent anything. Rather, they saw something other companies were doing great, then applied it to their own processes. Take Apple, for instance. It’s considered one of the most innovative tech companies in the world, but realistically, the global mega-giant didn’t technically invent any of the products it churns out – rather, it took other ideas and made them highly marketable and consumer-driven, hence giving birth to the company’s overwhelming success. Let’s face it: recycled ideas are what makes the world go round.

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Is it worth the criticism though?

There’s no denying that Instagram has been dubbed a ‘copycat’ for its latest update, but let’s look at the cold hard facts. By investing in this change, Instagram is opening up new channels for users to explore. Furthermore, they did so in a brazen way, even adopting the name ‘Instagram Stories’ – a direct adaptation of the name ‘Snapchat Stories’. They acknowledged the similarity and the original seed for their idea, and let their audiences know this.

What to take away from this

As the digital media world continues to evolve, you need to stay on your toes. With reports showing that the number of posts per Instagram user dwindled precariously between 2013 and 2015, the masterminds behind the company realised they needed to shake things up. So, they consulted another photo-sharing platform and observed its success. Snapchat encourages users to regularly engage with the app and post candid photos, videos and linking stories that typically generate conversation. Instagram, on the other hand, is famous for its finely-curated photo galleries and perfectly-angled, strongly filtered ‘glamour shots’. By adding this new feature, Instagram is sure to draw much more engagement from a wider audience.

 

 

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By Patricia O'Loughlin


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